On the 26th of September, the state news agency Xinhua, published an official account on the investigation on Bo XiLai, the ex-communist party leader of Chongqing (a Southern Chinese city with a population of more than 28 million). In the report, Bo is accused of “bribing”, “involvement” in the murderer of British Businessman Neil HeyWood and “sexual relationships with many woman”. In China, such a public allegation from the voice of the government, ensures Bo’s falling of grace.
A murder came to light
In November, 2011, Neil Heywood, an English businessman working in China, was found dead in his hotel room in Chongqing. Official reports decided the cause of death to be alcohol-induced heart-attack. His body was quickly and quietly cremated. Most Chinese people carried on their lives without knowledge of his existence or demise.
The Dead never talk, but the living person does. Three months after the mysterious death of Heywood, Wang lijun, the Police Chief of Chongqing, made a run to the US consulate in Chengdu, a nearby city, seeking for asylum on a gloomy day. There he revealed a seismic secret: it was Gu Kailua, the second wife of the then political superstar Bo Xilai, who had murdered Mr. Heywood. He was escorted out of the US embassy the next day, and had been under ”medical care” until his trial seven months later.
Two weeks after Wang fled to the US consulate, Bo was dismissed from his position as the party chief in Chongqing, for his involvement in the murder. Six months later, the Gu Kailai was quietly sentenced to a suspended death sentence; the trial lasted a few hours and foreign media were not allowed in the courtroom.
After another two months, Wang was tried secretly in Chengdu. The trial lasted for two days and he was sentenced to 15 years, on the ground of defection, accepting bribes of at least half a million dollars, abuse of power and covering up the murder of the Neil Heywood.
The “Chongqing model”
Despite the effort by the Chinese government in covering and burying the case, what remained unsaid stirred by wild rumours on what has happened to Bo, the high-flyer for the top office.
The 63-year-old man is the son of a late military and party leader. With the help of his father, he went up the party ranks fairly quickly: in the year of 2007, also the year when his father died, his was promoted as the party secretary of Chongqing.There he carried out a series radical reforms including a populist campaign for promotion, the anti-corruption movement and an ambitious effort to narrow down the income gap.
However, he also started a controversial “red song” campaign (popular songs about Mao, mainly praising Mao and his government). He was the hero behind the famous “Chongqing Model”, a way of governing that once made many question the ruling in Beijing.
On the other hand, Wang Lijun, a 52-year-old man, was a celebrity police chief and a loyal aid of Bo before he fled. He had been awarded by the State as a “national model worker”, he inspired an exaggerated TV drama about the police fight against the mafia, and most important of all, he was largely appreciated by Mr. Bo, his former boss, who appointed him in 2011 the vice-mayor of Chongqing city.
Under Bo’s instruction, Mr. Wang staged a crackdown on gangsters in Chongqing. Many Chongqing citizens liked him. They attributed to him the reduction of organised crime in the city. After Wang had been stripped of his post, many lawyers and party leaders, stood out and accused Wang of torturing suspects for their denial of guilt.
The state news agency accused Bo of taking bribes, involvement in murder and sexual relationships with women. A popular saying among the Chinese is that Bo had taken bribes worth 3 million dollars. Epoch Times, an anti-government website based in the US, said Bo had had sexual relationships with more than 100 different women. His wife, Gu, according to the article, was also having an affair with the murder victim, Heywood, a married man.
However, whether these accusations are real, or whether they are the reason that has led to Bo’s downfall is unknown. As the government faces a predictable reshuffle later this year, some speculate that Bo was discredited as a result of a power struggle among the party elites.
Today, Bo’s second son, Bo Guagua, posted a statement on Tumblr, a micro-blogging website, saying that he refused to believe the official accusation against his father. Bo Guagua, the only son of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, was the first mainland Chinese who attended the Harrow School. He was also at Oxford and Harvard University, a manager of the Guagua internet company, and a 24-year old who was spotted driving Ferrari and Porsche cars.
- Bo Xilai to go on trial over alleged link with Neil Heywood murder (guardian.co.uk)
- Bo Xilai Is Expelled From Communist Party, Referred to Judiciary (bloomberg.com)
- Bo Guagua speaks up for disgraced father Bo Xilai (guardian.co.uk)